Parents often wonder when the best time is for their child to begin music lessons. They want to make sure their child is ready to benefit from the lessons, yet they don’t want to miss out by having them start “too late”. They may also lament that they didn’t take lessons when they were young. When is too soon? When is too late?
Good news. While parents may worry that they’ve missed the magic moment as they watch other people’s 3 or 4 year-old kids up on the stage playing an instrument, it’s NEVER too late for either a child or an adult to start music lessons.
The best time to begin depends on the individual. Are they ready physically? Are they mature enough? Are they interested? Do they have enough time and support?
One of the biggest factors is interest. Parents can take steps to cultivate their child’s interest in music, but it can’t be forced. It usually can’t be suppressed, either! Sometimes a child will see and hear someone play a certain instrument and KNOW they must play that particular instrument, too. In other cases, the child will become interested in playing an instrument by hearing someone perform on a particular instrument, but will be happy playing any instrument. It’s largely a matter of what they’re exposed to. So consider ways to expose your child to a range of musical styles and instruments in ways that are fun.
In addition to the interest factor, natural musicality can be a factor. Many music educators believe we are ALL naturally musical, though. The Suzuki Method, for example, is based on the theory that we can develop our natural musical talents the same way we learn language naturally at a young age – through listening, imitation and encouragement.
Other readiness factors include:
- Physical Size and Coordination – The student should be able to hold and operate the chosen instrument without struggling.
- Maturity – The student needs to be ready to focus, listen and follow directions.